Caring about yourself means caring about your wellness. It means taking time to treat yourself to healthy snacks, a nice cup of tea, maybe a quick afternoon yoga or stretch, or actually massaging yourself. Yes. A trendy self-care routine and important habit we endorse is self-massage: it’s easy, it can be quick and short, and you can do it anywhere and anytime. It’s very relaxing and revitalizing.
The skin is one of the bodies largest organs. We shower and wash it and clean it everyday, hopefully treat it with some creams. But what about stimulating it? Adding pressure to certain points that have accumulated tension throughout the day can be very relieving and relaxing. The skin is the first barrier and protection we have so we must treat it right!
Self-Massage is a balancing practice. Benefits include:
- Increases circulation: massaging can move blood through congested areas. It increases blood flow in the circulatory system which in turn increases the oxygen and nutrients that are delivered to different body organs.
- Stimulates organ function: releasing tension in abdominal muscles can release tension in the organs inside, meaning that your GI tract will feel and be better! Massage can relieve constipation, stimulate the liver and the kidney, and promote a healthy digestion.
- Helps the body detoxing: our skin and the layers below accumulate toxins. By massaging parts of your skin, you start moving these out. Let’s say your flushing and cleaning yourself of impurities. To feel energized and reset, this is a quick and easy way to start releasing the toxins we have accumulated.
- Improves sleep: a study took a look at middle aged adults with chronic back pain that where receiving massages twice a week and they found they improved sleep quality and time, alongside reduced pain and decreased anxiety. Because sleep deprivation can be related to increased levels of pain chemicals in the body, a massage helps sleep because it releases serotonin, the anti-pain chemicals in the body.
- Slows aging: massaging strengthens connective tissue, which means both your skin and bones will be strong, happy and youthful. It also improves lymphatic circulation, reducing waste that can cause vein swelling.
- Improves posture: have you been sitting, even hunching over your desktop? Take time to massage your neck, shoulders and feel the muscle of your back. Massaging and treating these body parts will help you acquire a natural, good posture. If the elements that keep you in place all day are treated, relaxed and pampered, they will keep working and holding you in the right position!
- Nourishes your skin: who doesn’t want a healthy vibrant skin? Massaging can firstly exfoliate and eliminate dead skin cells. On a deeper layer, it stimulates the production of sebum which will improve your skin’s tone and texture. Parallel to your relaxation state, these benefits are described as a ‘glow’.
- Reduces anxiety and stress: a massage directly decreases cortisol and insulin levels, while producing serotonin and dopamine. You are immediately relaxed!
- Pain relief: massaging yourself can increase endorphin release, meaning you won’t feel as much pain (if having an injury). It can even help prevent accumulated lactic acid after a strong work out. Think about massaging your quads after a long long hike. You will prevent that sting if you self massage for a bit!
Apply strokes as you feel (faster or slower). Let’s say you start with your neck, a common point of stress accumulation. Start soft and feel how the skin and muscle react to your own touch. Soft strokes tend to be more relaxing. Slide your entire hand over the skin with a steady pressure. Let’s say you are now massaging your shoulder, sweep your hands covering the surface of the whole skin muscle and bone. Follow the shape and then come back to where you began, to repeat again.
Another method more along the lines of reflexology is practiced by applying pressure to one point, maybe some slight circular motion. This is usually done at the base of your feet and you can find many diagrams that show what parts of your toes and feet reflect or represent which part of your body. Massaging your feet also feels very nice!
Self-massage can be done anywhere anytime, including your office. There is no need for a spa or a bed. You can access the neck muscles easily when you feel tension. Even using one hand, you can reach the base of the skull and start releasing by using pressure and circular motion movements. What about the jaw and the face? These muscles and their respective skin also need care!
By playing with different pressures and speeds, you can heal yourself! At Sweetwell, we promote a lifestyle of wellness. It’s not only about eating well and exercising. We believe that to feel well and be well, you have to treat yourself and your whole being.